Share This Page

Summer sexcapades spice up 'To Do List'

| Thursday, July 25, 2013, 8:28 p.m.

“The To Do List” is a summer romantic comedy that follows a methodical, college-bound teen (Aubrey Plaza) who hurls herself at her “virginity problem” through a summer course of study. And what follows is a raunchy romp, a “Bridesmaids” to the “Hangovers” of too many hormonal boy movies about taking that “Virginity Hit.”

Writer-director Maggie Carey has assembled a cast that's too old to be playing high-schoolers, set her story in the early 1990s and come up with a rude, sometimes-uproarious comedy that is as filthy as “American Pie,” with just a hint of that film's sentimental sweetness.

Plaza, of TV's “Parks and Recreation,” fearlessly puts it all out there as a teen who's put out that she hasn't “put out.” Her Brandy is nerdy, needy, and more funny / skinny than sexy-thin in a swimsuit. And she is obsessed with making lists. All it takes is a little peer pressure from her supposedly more-experienced pals (the hilarious Alia Shawkat and Sarah Steele) to make her add “losing it” to her prep-for-college list — right after “buy shower shoes.”

Filthy Fiona (Shawkat) knows every form of sex and every euphemism for it that 1993 Boise, Idaho, can provide. Brandy, ignoring the insults of her oversexed sis (Rachel Bilson, perfectly cast) and clueless concern of her parents (Clark Gregg and Connie Britton), takes a turn toward sin and away from the Mormon kids' graduation-night party the moment she finishes her valedictorian speech.

Ever on task, she keeps sweet and worshipful Cameron (Johnny Simmons) as a sexual-experience backup.

But her first day as lifeguard at the local pool, she picks out the hunky Rusty (Scott Porter) and plans her summer's big finish.

Plaza is brilliant at playing someone smart and yet blithely incompetent at the social-sexual demands of her peers.

Bill Hader is the slacker manager of the pool where Brandy tests her methods, Christopher Mintz-Plasse is the would-be player who long ago stole the heart of poor Brandy-pal Wendy (Steele), and Andy Samberg has a cameo as a rocker wannabe.

Like most such comedies, the one-big-idea tends to wear thin, and Carey struggles to keep this bouncing along as it traverses that tightrope between and tee-hee and tasteless.

But the blank-faced Plaza never lets up and never lets on that Brandy is on anything less than a quest: for life experience, liberation and — dare we hope it? — love.

Roger Moore reviews movies for McClatchy-Tribune News Service.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.